The overseas travel ban introduced in March to help stop the spread of coronavirus has meant that most Australians’ passports have been gathering dust of late. As things stand, the ban is likely to stay in place for some time to come, with Trade Minister Simon Birmingham telling the National Press Club on 17 June that tourism into or out of Australia “remains quite some distance off” and that borders would “most likely” not re-open until 2021. However, previous reports have suggested the ban may be relaxed sooner for specific destinations as the health situation evolves.
In particular, plans to introduce a trans-Tasman travel ‘bubble’ between Australia and New Zealand continue to be developed between the two nations’ governments, while a number of other countries such as Greece and Indonesia are reported to be interested in opening up their borders to Australian visitors.
With this in mind, some Australians may be making preliminary plans so they’re ready to act when restrictions are lifted, including considering their currency options. While exchange rates continue to move up and down, overall the Aussie dollar has strengthened in recent months relative to currencies like the British Pound and the US and New Zealand dollars. This could make it tempting for Australian consumers to consider locking in their foreign currency to avoid potential future price fluctuations ahead of a trip, once restrictions lift.
In addition to those considering a trip overseas in the future, HSBC and Travelex both told Canstar they’ve seen a spike in the number of customers using travel money card accounts for online foreign-currency purchases, particularly with many Australians spending more time at home during the pandemic.
To help consumers compare their travel money card options for when travel restrictions are eased, Canstar has assessed 14 products on our database and issued 5-Star Ratings to the ones offering outstanding value.
How were travel money cards assessed?
Using its unique methodology, Canstar Research considered the price and features of each product. The price component made up the majority of each product’s score (70%) and took into account currency exchange rates offered over a four-week period (in March 2020), as well as any card fees applied, such as overseas ATM withdrawal fees.
When calculating a card’s price score, Canstar Research considered a basket of seven currencies, with a different weighting applied to each:
- New Zealand dollar (30%)
- US dollar (20%)
- Great British pound (15%)
- Euro (15%)
- Thai baht (10%)
- Singapore dollar (5%)
- Japanese yen (5%)
Whether a card offered customers the ability to earn rewards points on money spent was also considered as part of the price score.
For the features part of the assessment, Canstar Research analysed a variety of factors relating to a customer’s use of the card, such as how they can load and reload currency onto it and whether they can use it for particular transaction types, like online purchases.
Based on their overall score, cards were awarded a Star Rating ranging from one to five, with the top Rating going to the travel money cards deemed to represent outstanding value.
5-Star Rated travel money cards in 2020
The following travel money cards, shown in alphabetical order by provider name, received a 5-Star Rating from Canstar Research in 2020.
Citi – Citi Global Currency Account
The Citi Global Currency Account has maintained its 100% record of receiving a 5-Star Rating, having been recognised as offering outstanding value last year too at the first time of asking following its entry into the market. This year, Canstar Research found the Citi Global Currency Account performed particularly well on price, where it beat the market average on each of the currencies in the methodology that the account accommodates.
HSBC – Everyday Global Account
Once again, the HSBC Everyday Account emerged as one of the strongest travel money cards considered by Canstar Research across price and features. Its third year in a row to receive a 5-Star Rating, the account outperformed the market average on cost across its range of currencies. The account also impressed when it came to features and beat the market average score on a range of aspects such as security and customer service.
Travelex – Travelex Money Card
The Travelex Money Card has received a 5-Star Rating from Canstar Research in 2020, making it the fifth year in a row the card has been recognised as offering outstanding value. Once again, Canstar Research said the card stood out from its peers on price, with a more competitive offering than the market average on each of the currencies considered. Its feature offering, including a number of consumer-friendly inclusions such as 24/7 support, meant the Travelex Money Card also outperformed the market average on features overall.
If you would like to learn more about how Canstar Research assessed travel money cards in 2020, you can read the methodology document.